UK Immigration changes in 2017
In the last few years, the UK immigration system has become increasingly complex. To add to the misery of both employers and migrant employees alike, the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) keep announcing new changes ever so often. We will be seeing further UK immigration changes in 2017, which are listed below.
Tier 2 Criminal Record Checks
In 2016, the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) announced that they are introducing Criminal Record Checks for all applicants applying under the Tier 2 visa category.
However, the UKVI has now confirmed that beginning 6 April 2017, the checks will not be applicable to all Tier 2 migrants, but only to those migrants employed in sectors dealing with the public or minors e.g. Health Care, Social Services, Teaching etc. This list is not exhaustive.
At present, only Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants must apply for a criminal record check from each country where they have resided for 12 months or more prior to making their application.
Immigration Health Surcharge for Tier 2 (ICT) applicants
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a fee which some migrants must pay then they apply for a UK visa, which allows them access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
At present, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrants are exempt from paying this fee, however, this is expected to change early this year. Whilst no fixed date has been given, it seems this change is due to come in effect soon.
The Immigration Health Surcharge is set at £200 per year, per person i.e. those applying for entry clearance or leave to remain for 3 years, will need to pay £600, or £1,000 if applying for 5 years.
It is to be noted that all dependant family members applying for a visa in line with the main applicant must also pay this fee.
Immigration Skills Charge
The UKVI is pressing ahead with its plans to introduce an Immigration Skills Charge in April 2017 in an attempt to reduce Britain’s reliance on migrant workers. This charge will be levied on employers that employ migrants in skilled areas.
Set at £1,000 per employee per year, and a reduced rate of £364 for small or charitable organisations, it is designed to cut down on the number of businesses taking on migrant workers and incentivise training British staff to fill those jobs.
An exemption to the charge will mean that it will not apply to PhD-level jobs and international students switching from student visas to working visas.
Sponsors who have a valid sponsor licence have an obligation to comply with the duties that come with a sponsorship licence, failure to do so can have their licence revoked our downgraded.
Previously employers were required to retain documents in relation to a migrant worker until a compliance visit had taken place, however, now they are only required to keep them for one year after sponsorship has ended, or until the documents have been reviewed by the UKVI compliance officer during an audit, whichever is shorter.
Employers should factor how the above changes will affect them and use this information to plan their international assignments, especially budget for the above charges which can be quite substantial especially if an employee is bringing their family members.
If you have any questions on the above or would like to discuss as how the above UK Immigration changes in 2017 will affect your migrant workers, please get in touch with our UK Immigration Lawyers on +44 (0)20 3318 5794 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.